Justine Elliot: Two for the road to Parliament
JUSTINE Elliot says she is just like any woman who juggles home and family life with a demanding job.
"I'm not alone, everyone juggles," she said.
But for Mrs Elliot the challenge of being Mum to Alexandra, 15, and Joe, 13, while spending 18 weeks of each year in Canberra when Parliament is sitting as the Member for Richmond, is made easier by the support of her husband Craig.
Mrs Elliot said the couple took a team approach to supporting each other and their family.
"Everything we do is as a team and we work strongly together as a family," she said.
The couple met in the early 90s while both were serving in the Queensland police force.
They married in 1997.
Life for the young couple took a dramatic turn in 2004 when Mrs Elliot defeated Larry Anthony for the Seat of Richmond, which she retained at this year's federal election.
Mr Elliot quit his police job and became a house dad, and it's a role he says he has enjoyed and one he has felt comfortable in. "In previous generations men have measured themselves by their careers," he said.
"But these days it's different. The man can stay home."
And while he is the home-based parent, he is also very involved in Mrs Elliot's work, attending functions on her behalf and working on her recent election campaign.
He also recently completed a bachelor of counter terrorism, security and intelligence at Edith Cowan University. And there is a history of political life in his family.
His uncle, Charlie Griffiths, held the seat of Shortland from 1956 to 1969.
When asked what effect the pressures of political life have had on the couple's children, Mrs Elliot said the experience had been a "very grounding" one.
"They have developed very thick skin," she said.
"They are very aware of the political situation, they cope and they have developed strength.
"They are strong people in themselves.
"It has made them stronger willed and open-minded."
And while their children are supportive of their mother's career in politics, at times they just want to talk about something else.
"Sometimes we will sit down to dinner and they will say, 'Can we not talk politics tonight?' "
The couple said they made a conscious effort to be engaged in their children's lives, to focus on ordinary family matters and to work around the challenges life in Canberra brings.
"I can't always be there for birthdays.
"But we celebrate them, it just may not be on the actual day," Mrs Elliot said.
Being a politician means Mrs Elliot is often subject to criticism, and sometimes it gets nasty.
"Policing gave me a thick skin," she said.
"But 99.9% of people are really good.
"You can't let it influence you. You accept it as part of the role."
She said the stress of public life was worth it because politics was about improving people's lives.
"I focus on the end result, and that is making people's lives better," she said.
The Elliot family recently moved from Fingal where they had lived for about 20 years to a 1ha property at Nunderi and this is where she unwinds.
Mrs Elliot loves to garden and grows passionfruit and pumpkins.
"We grew about 100 jap pumpkins last year," she said.
Mrs Elliot says she has no firm plans for life after politics.
She is sure however she will continue to be involved in community work.
- AT the 2004 Federal Election sitting National Party member for the seat of Richmond Larry Anthony was defeated by Labor Party candidate Justine Elliot.
- From 1996 to 2004, Mr Anthony held the seat which his father Doug Anthony (1957-84) and his grandfather Hubert Lawrence Anthony (1937-57) also served.
- The Anthonys are the only three-generation dynasty in the history of the House of Representatives.
- The Hon Justine Elliot was the Minister for Ageing in the Rudd Federal Government that came into power in 2007.